Mar 7, 2013

Goodnight, sleep tight, don't let the bedbugs bite.


My grandfather used to say that to me when he tucked me into bed at night. I always thought it was strange because how could I stop a bedbug from biting me? I would be asleep. It turns out I was right. You can’t stop them.

It was August, 2006 and Jennifer and the kids were returning to St. Louis so that they could do some pre-school activities. Our seminary housing wasn’t quite available, so they spent a month at a hotel called The Fenton Inn. It was cheap and close to church and school. But what we didn’t know at the time was that it was also infested with bed bugs.

Bed bugs are hard to detect. This is because they have mostly been eradicated from the United States since the 1930s. Who would think that they would exist in a hotel room in St. Louis? But when the rashes started appearing, Jennifer did some sleuthing and internet searching. When she suspected bedbugs she went back to the hotel room and turned up the corners of the sheets. There they were. Cimex lectularius, the common bed bug. They probably came to this country hidden in somebody’s suitcase.

Now here’s an act of bravery I am so proud of. It turns out that seminary housing wouldn’t be available for at least two days. Getting another hotel would have been very expensive. So the whole family continued sleeping at The Fenton Inn with the bed bugs. I felt so bad because I think I was sleeping at Dick and Polly Phillips house. I knew that there were no bedbugs there!

Eventually seminary housing opened up and Jennifer moved the family from The Fenton Inn. Since bed bugs are almost impossible to kill, she bagged up everyone’s clothes into black plastic bags and we started over again. We never saw another one. Until this morning. I looked at a picture of one on the internet as I was researching this article. OK. I never saw one alive again. And I hope I never will.

There are so many things in this life we take for granted. One of them is when your grandfather says, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite” – he doesn’t mean to imply that there are actually bedbugs. Most of us go to bed at night never even thinking about them. But when I say this rhyme to my kids, it actually sends shivers up their spines.

It just goes to show you that this life isn’t perfect. Luther was right when he said this life is truly a veil of tears. Whether its bedbugs or something else, we really need God’s help to get through it. But God does help us. Every day. His Spirit gives us the strength to meet any of life’s annoyances head-on.

Sleep tight…
Pastor David